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Broncos Camp Notebook: OLB Nik Bonitto finding stride as preseason debut approaches

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Nik Bonitto appears to be finding his stride.

The Broncos' second-round pick enjoyed perhaps his best practice since joining the team, as he could have recorded as many as four sacks in game conditions against the Cowboys during Thursday's joint practice.

The Oklahoma product has worked with the first-team defense at times during training camp, and his biggest moment on Thursday came on a fourth-down would-be sack of Dak Prescott.

The transition is a contrast from the earlier days of training camp, when Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett mentioned there were times when Bonitto had "hiccups" as he adjusted to the requirements of the NFL game.

"[I'm] definitely a lot more comfortable," Bonitto said. "I feel like I'm playing a little bit faster now that I've got the playbook under [my belt] a little bit. [For] me, the big thing is playing fast, playing aggressive, not too much worrying about the calls. Just going out and playing fast."

Even as he became accustomed to the next level, his athleticism has always been evident.

"The bend, bro," Chubb said of Bonitto's talent. "Nik Bonitto's one of the best rookies in this class. I'm excited to see what he does. I'm excited to continue to work with him, and all those different packages we're going to have with all of us on the field, it's going to be fun."

On Saturday, Bonitto — who recorded 15 sacks across his final two seasons at Oklahoma — will get his first chance to take NFL snaps.

His goals won't change as he sees snaps against the Cowboys and tries to record his first sack at the next level.

On Thursday, Bonitto sure seemed up to the task.


Even if Russell Wilson does see playing time on Saturday against the Cowboys, his snaps would be quite limited, according to Hackett.

That means plenty of opportunities for Josh Johnson and Brett Rypien, who are competing for the backup quarterback position. Both players have had their share of good moments during training camp, and Hackett reiterated that the competition remains open.

"Oh, it's a great chance," Hackett said. "… I think a guy like Josh, a guy like 'Ryp,' it's a great competition right now between both those guys. … Both of those guys go back and forth. For us, it's going to be about that consistency. Getting those completions, making the right decisions, keeping the chains moving and taking the shots when you have those. I think they have both shown they can do that. It's now about doing it consistently as we move into these preseason games."


Wilson spoke to the media for the first time since Tim Patrick suffered a season-ending ACL injury, and he spoke to the void left by the vocal Broncos receiver.

"I was just hurt," Wilson said. "It was devastating to see him go down. It was a great catch, and he was accelerating to finish the play and his knee gave out. Tim has been a true pro. Ever since I got here, he's been a true pro. A leader in the locker room, a leader on the field. Just a leader in every way with how he's gone about it. He's still staying positive and staying upbeat. He'll come back stronger. If there is anybody who can overcome anything, it's him. He's overcome so much in his life. He's a winner, he's a competitor, he's a champion in every way and he'll overcome it and be better for it. I know we're going to do this all for him. We're going to work out butts off every day because he always did."

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